SPD's Steinbruek to face Merkel next year

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SPD's Steinbruek to face Merkel next year

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Germany’s Social Democrats have chosen the man who will take on Angela Merkel in next year’s General Election in Germany.

The SPD has surprised everyone by choosing Peer Steinbrueck, the former finance minister, as its candidate for chancellor, and a formal announcement is expected on Monday.

The 65-year-old is known for his abrasive style and quick wit, and is a former leader of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

He snatches the nomination from under the nose of the previous front-runner, Frank-Walter Steinmeyer, a former foreign minister, but who led the SPD into the 2009 election when the party tumbled to a post-war nadir of 23 percent of the vote.

Steinbruek has previously been regarded with suspicion by some of those on the left of the SPD, but his publication this week of proposals for restrictions on the banking sector appear to have silenced some of his critics.